Definition of EMERGENCY
: an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action
The following information is given in an effort to enlighten and perhaps assist the reader who might either find himself in similar circumstance or peril. I am not going to attempt to minimize the mistakes or spare the reader any discomfort as the story will necessarily deal with some unpleasantness and all around “are you kidding me moments”. If you have a weak stomach or are inclined to turn your head away when confronted with general stupidity or gross things related to biological issues, don’t read any further.
IF you are still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you. This is my recollection of the events leading to the fateful day and the vacation from hell. Don’t worry; I think my wife still enjoyed the vacation.
She had been talking about this vacation for months. 10 Days in Maui. The tropical paradise, plans were made, tickets purchased, the condo arranged for, and off we go. The flight over was uneventful, except for that little delay in Portland, which made us a bit late for the connecting flight in San Francisco. The aisle seat was nice and it didn’t really hurt all that much when the flight attendant ran the cart into my knee the first time. It hurt a little more the second time but was almost unnoticed after that. After a while, you learn to anticipate being hit and even get out of the way once in a while. It is not always easy to be 6 foot 5 inches tall.
The flight arrived in Maui on time and the hunt for the rental car was not too difficult. The car was a convertible with enough room to secure our bags and get us on the road quickly. If only I had a clue where I was going and how to get there. I also noticed after being stuffed into that tube that traveled at 500 miles per hour for 5 hours without knowing which way north was and deprived of food and adequate water, I was a little disoriented and thirsty. After a wrong turn or two we found a Burger King and some refreshment.
(Excuse me, did you say your first meal in Maui was at BURGER KING? Was your wife APPALLED? Did she refuse to partake, failing to understand any hunger emergency that would necessitate eating at BURGER KING the moment you arrive in Maui?)
Now, well armed with the knowledge we were in Maui and on vacation we attempted the short drive to our lodging. Kihei was our destination. With the experience I have now, it would have been an easy drive. Still getting acquainted with the rental car and navigation in an area with names that were unpronounceable, we proceeded south and took the most indirect route possible to the condo. I noticed right away there were two types of people sharing the road with me: those who drove as if they had just smoked a joint or those who were very late getting to their next destination. It was a very good thing I didn’t see more people driving like I was, without a clue where they were going.
Now before I go any further know this: My wife has many outstanding qualities. Navigation is not one of them. If you want to go somewhere new, she is not the go-to person for directions. Numerous times in the past and even on this trip, attempts have been made to improve on this small shortcoming without remedy. I know from training and experience it is not her fault. There are only two explanations for things that go wrong or don’t work: it is either the software’s fault or mine. More will be covered about this later. (She does try very hard. When the software works properly and she is not distracted by beauty and activity outside the car, she has successfully completed a journey before.)
The condo was very nice, the view fantastic and the promise of the days to come without boundary. Remember, in my world if it is too good to be true, it’s not true. Yes, I too hear the music in the background. Low tones with an ominous beat often associated with movies just before the last guy in line is killed.
We took a beautiful walk on the edge of the ocean at sun up. Man was it nice. In fact, looking back, it was one of the best times of the trip for me. The rest of the day was spent in sight seeing and recon, looking for the place to register for a race the following morning and a parking spot. Hope also begins to fade just a little with regard to the navigation issues. It’s not so bad; I am used to driving and finding, I just wish the finding part worked a little better.
This day had a very early start as LeAnn had to be at the start of her race at sunrise. Not so bad considering our internal clocks are still on Pacific Standard Time. She did very well in her race, finishing her 15K in 1 hour and 44 minutes. I was able to photograph and video her crossing the finish line, a very fine event indeed.
Today is the game changer. From this point on all hope for a normal vacation is lost. The odd thing is it isn’t lost all at once, it isn’t lost in a single cataclysmic event – it fades away in to the fog. This is my story LeAnn’s will follow closely behind.
I am sure LeAnn has a different vision of this day and her perspective will more accurately reflect what transpired, mine is the perspective that colors my memory and frames the way I will forever remember my first journey to hell. I hope it is my last.
The day dawned with all the promise of a day in paradise might. We planned a drive north past Lahaina, exploring west Maui’s North Shore. On the way we wanted to find a beach LeAnn had heard was one of the most beautiful, and eat at a place where the macadamia nut pancakes were to die for. Off we went to our destiny, innocent and unaware of the hell that was to follow.
The first hint of trouble came in the stop at a little rest room on the way. I pulled into a little beachside park and entered the one that had never been cleaned. Trying to keep from stepping on something that might never get off my shoes, I found no real satisfaction in the visit. Further up the road we became more and more challenged by navigational issues in our search for that beautiful beach. Beautiful sights were seen and wonderful things witnessed but often times our discussions seemed to have more to do with what we couldn’t find than what we were seeing. I know now it was either a software issue or my fault. Once again, I found and attempted some satisfaction at port-a-potty on the way without the satisfaction that might come under normal circumstances at such a facility. It wasn’t that I couldn’t pee, it was that I didn’t feel like I had finished.
After a bit, LeAnn announced that we had missed the planned lunch stop and it was behind us. Too far, I felt to go back (3 whole miles!) and now committed to a one-lane road with narrow turns and drop offs to the left, onward we traveled. I had, by this time, convinced myself we would be able to find a good place to eat on the way and not backtrack. The need to go to the restroom continued but the opportunities were not anywhere to be found. In desperation I stopped along side the road and was able to gain some satisfaction but nothing like I needed. Hungry and a little concerned, on we traveled. Well into midafternoon we found ourselves back on a two-lane road and knew there was a good possibility of someplace good to eat just around the corner.
Through Wailuku to the Lao Valley we went without seeing a place to eat. Now the rest room issue is becoming a major concern but I am still trying to keep a good face on the day. After all LeAnn has been dreaming of this vacation for months now and I am not in a hurry to be the one to spoil it for her.
On the way up the Lao Valley there is a park with a large and very inviting rest room where I spent at least 40 minutes and several trips inside attempting to gain some relief from the pressure that was beginning to cast an ugly mark on this adventure. Onward and upward we travel to the beautiful dead end road with a parking lot requiring $5 to stop and offering a beautiful half mile walk near a babbling brook. Oh yea just what I needed the sound of running water. Off I go to the port-a-potty to once again attempt what seems to be the impossible. This is beginning to worry me a lot. Still lets keep a good face on this problem after all we don’t want to wreck a good vacation with something that will most likely sort itself out soon. This is a hint boys, if it doesn’t seem right it’s not right and should be addressed.
Missing lunch, having trouble navigating, and being quiet about a medical issue all can contribute to communications issues inside a convertible on any road. This vehicle and this road were not exceptions to the rule. The best thing I can say about this time during the vacation was I don’t think I said anything I shouldn’t have but certainly didn’t say a few things that should have been said, all to my discredit. It’s so hard to be the person you should be when you are busy being something you don’t want to be. In simpler terms; I had to go real bad by this time, in some discomfort, hungry, tired, and ready for the day to end.
By the time we got close to home the need to urinate was becoming the most important thing in my life and I felt like I might not make it to the room in time. Little did I know I had lots of time because I wasn’t going no matter how badly I wanted to. Yes, we are now at the point pain is becoming a real issue in this adventure.
Now is the time to compound the issue. I can assure you the best way to make things worse is to keep most of the information to yourself, minimize the situation, and if you are really brain-dead, attempt to self diagnose your problem. Yes, those are the keys to turning a medical problem into a medical emergency. Hang on it gets worse.
Armed with very little intelligence and even less resources, a man with internet access can come up with some really plausible ideas about what ails him. This can be even more true if you cloud his reason with pain and try to keep the situation as secret as possible. In this particular situation, my conclusion was a blocked tube and the best solution more water. Yep folks, we have now taken the plunge in total stupidity and a certainty of continued pain and discomfort.
Pain and discomfort, pace the floor, wipe the sweat from your forehead, teeth-floating pain. Not a pretty sight and at long last a perfect opportunity to share some of those most intimate facts with the wife when she returned inside from viewing the sunset. Yep, not feeling very good, think I have a problem, kind of conversation. This conversation was a good two or three hours into the pace-the-floor part. That is said to highlight the fact nothing done on my part during this time was done in a timely way or a way that reflected well on my ability to take care of myself.
Now we move to the comical part of this trip into hell. The best place for a guy in my situation would be somewhere he might get some good medical attention. There finally, get some medical attention, great idea how and where. My wife has a lot of great talents but driving somewhere in the dark in an emergency is not one of them. Driving anywhere unfamiliar in an emergency, even in the daylight, well you get the picture.
By this time I am so far out of it I don’t remember to get my glasses. It’s all I can do to get to the car, and are you kidding me sit in the car, how the hell am I going to get into that little car. I did get in the car. Off we go, now into the dark to find a small storefront that houses the medical attention I need. Wrong turns, speed bumps, missed signs, millions of questions and waiting room with a fish tank that had bubbling water, that was the future. Sit down, said the receptionist, its hard being nice when you feel like I did, it is a lot easier to pace and concentrate on being quiet.
I know my perceptions are a little skewed but I am convinced the Doctor in this little store front was one of those guys at the end of his shift who knew better than to go the extra mile. So after getting his cut of the medical gravy train, he told me I had a swollen prostrate that was not letting me urinate. Two options: a catheter or medication to shrink the prostrate. He didn’t do catheters that would have to be done 20 miles north in Kahului. The medication would take some time to realize relief.
The journey continues now with a white-knuckle drive 20 miles north to Kahului to look for a hospital in the dark on roads you can’t pronounce in pain that has not lessened, in fact seems to be about a million times worse than the last set of speed bumps confirmed. How can this get any better? How about a couple more missed turns and at least one stop along side the road to attempt the impossible without regard to the laws of the land or good manners in polite society.
Finally the hospital is in sight right there behind us. Two more wrong turns and a small argument about where to park. (She didn’t consider me to be handicapped.) We enter the waiting room full of small children with sore throats and runny noses. I’ve seen this one before – looked like about a two hour wait from my past experiences.
Millions of questions about names, medical insurance, and the ability to pay, followed by a hope and a prayer that the last medical professional might have called ahead to pave the way. Minutes turned in to minutes that felt like hours. It wasn’t a long wait if a man without pain had suffered it.
Then the nurse angel appears at the door, “come on back” he says. Those words were the nicest words I had heard in a long time. They ranked up there with what I imagine hearing you have just won Powerball, or it’s a boy Mr. McAnulty. Yea buddy I loved that nurse. He was instantly my favorite person in the world. Take off your clothes and lay down here. No hesitation no modesty just compliance. Then the catheter, followed by the sweet music of relief, 1.5 liters later the absence of pain and the optimism of knowing it won’t hurt like that anymore.
The story could end right there but it will go on now for eight more days. The good side of the story; the antibiotics given to prevent infection and head off complications from the marriage of man and internal catheter will lessen the symptoms and recovery from a terrible cough and cold that will be suffered in the next week, never during the next 8 days will I have to worry or even think about peeing. The other side of the coin; the best way not to have to come back to the hospital would be keeping the catheter in until I get home, getting up every two hours for the next week to empty the bag, and never taking a step or moving without feeling the pain of a tube where you don’t want a tube to be.
Now fading into the list of things I don’t want to remember; a plane ride from hell to home, a fine dining experience marred by the complications of three hours of straining on the fateful day, being the only one seemingly able to drive but unable to get into and out of that same car without considerable discomfort, showers that required three times as much care and far more planning, and dreaming of being home while in paradise.
What follows now is the truth as told by LeAnn:
Trouble in Paradise
I learned some things Monday. Among them are:
- If your husband says he’s not feeling well and needs to stay near a bathroom, don’t delicately assume you know what he’s talking about. Feel free to pry.
- If he comes out of a lengthy visit to a public restroom while you’re hanging out in the convertible in the parking lot, wishing you were enjoying the sunshine somewhere else, and you say, “Do you feel better now?” and he says, “Yes,” don’t assume he’s all better. Ask some more questions.
It was obvious that Will was not his usual cute and fun-to-be with self. I thought it was all due to my failures as a navigator. Like… This stupid map thing on my iPhone doesn’t have the right instructions to the “most beautiful beach in the USA”…. Oops, the Gazebo restaurant where we were going to have the famous macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup is in the town three miles behind us….It’s not that I’m completely inept, (well, ok, I am,) but it doesn’t help if the map on the phone doesn’t take me where I asked to go. Or I tap on the wrong thing and the whole map disappears. Or I get distracted by the scenery and forget that I am supposedly the navigator. Strangely, he isn’t interested in all my extremely valid excuses.
My navigational infirmity is a sore trial for my longsuffering husband, who has inerrant sense of direction, always notices landmarks and remembers details about places he has been. As he texted our son, “Trying to teach your mom to navigate with the map program is hell on earth.” Believe it or not, I was not the least offended. I laughed out loud when he told me.
Will is far too considerate to bore me with any pain or discomfort he experiences, even though I freely tell him all of my own afflictions, usually several times. He has a strong personal creed against complaining. (How many times have we heard, “No wimps, whiners, or crybabies allowed”?) I should have known there was something wrong when he didn’t make sure we had lunch. When we got back to our condo, (with absolutely no good help from me, thank you very much) and he wasn’t interested in dinner either, I was puzzled. “You told me you were feeling better.” Well yes, at that moment he was slightly better. That didn’t mean he was all better. He needed to stay near the bathroom.
Since hanging out with him was less than fun at the moment, thinking perhaps I’d need to go get some PeptoBismal, I went outside to walk on the beach a little and called my sister Jean and then Hope. I watched the sunset and headed back. I was still enthralled with the sunset when I came back, but Will was pacing the floor, drinking water, wiping the sweat off his face, and I was appalled to see how bad he looked. He said he thought maybe he was trying to pass a kidney stone so he had been drinking lots of water. I started asking questions and looked up symptoms and disagreed with his diagnosis. He just plain had to pee really bad and couldn’t.
I looked up the local Urgent Care and called to see if they were open. Yes, until 9 p.m. It was a little after 7. He was still pacing, in obvious pain, wiping the sweat from his face. Let’s get going. I found the address on my stupid iPhone map, and we got in the convertible – quite an ordeal since the pain of sitting down about made him pass out. I only took one wrong turn. Do you know how hard it is to find the right street in the dark when most of the street names start with K and have about 15 letters? In his pain-fogged state, Will had forgotten his glasses so he was no help at all. All the gasping and moaning were a little distracting as well. We finally got there, and though we were the only ones in the waiting room, it took awhile to be called back. I enjoyed a magazine and the gurgling water in the aquarium, and Will paced the entire time. The doctor there decided he needed to go the hospital emergency room 20 miles away. The receptionist kindly gave me written directions and a map. A lot of help they are when you are in a convertible with NO INTERIOR LIGHTS whatsoever. So I found it on the stupid phone again.
I immediately turned on the wrong K-word street and went up to the main highway on a road with lots of speed bumps. An absolutely horrible thing to do to a man in his condition. I felt awful about it, but continued fearlessly on.
It was a very long journey, and I was feeling a little scared. I have never seen my husband in so much pain, and he was not himself, except for his constant moaning exhortation, “Don’t speed.” I’ve heard that before. Many times. Except without the moaning part.
After another wrong turn or two down dark streets, we managed to find the emergency entrance to the hospital. He refused to let me drop him off at the door while I parked, instead tried to get me to take a handicapped parking spot (“If I’m not handicapped right now, I don’t know who is!”) and finally insisted I take a spot reserved for a radiologist. The waiting room was full of families with lots of children, and a sign directed me to fill out a form and fill out EVERY LINE, then place it face down in a basket, which had a big pile of other face-down papers like it.
To make a long story short, before he went completely around the bend, he was seen by a very nice nurse and doctor, and obtained relief. When we finally left there after 11 p.m., he was ever so much better. Of course, there was a catheter attached to him, and nice a bag strapped to his leg, and a recommendation that he keep it attached until after returning home to be sure it didn’t happen again
The next morning we went out to get prescriptions filled and food to eat in for the day. We spent a relaxing day on the beautiful premises of our condo, and what a joy it was to have my husband returned once again to his amiable self, though still suffering effects of his trying day.
An unsightly bag on the leg does cramp your style on Maui – no swimming or lounging around in shorts, because it came all the way down to his knee. Sadly, it continued to be painful for him to move, including getting in and out of the car. A balcony with a gorgeous view of palm trees, the ocean, whales, and various entertainment including competitive croquet, painting and tai chi at least provided some pleasant distraction when he wasn’t sleeping. Did I mention, he seemed to feel a little worse each day? And I think he started a new fashion trend in his wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts with sweatpants and sandals.
I told him that my friend Cindy had messaged me to be sure to ask someone about Little Beach. I looked it up and discovered it was a nude beach. When I told Will about it, he said, “Well, if we went there, I could clear the beach in no time at all. – frighten small children and give them all nightmares for years to come.” Oh, what a thought!
On Wednesday, we went out to lunch and did a little exploring before attending our previously scheduled Luau that night, followed by a beautiful drive in the convertible with a full moon overhead. The next morning it was pretty clear that Will needed some rest and recuperation. He admitted that he just couldn’t keep going out and about with all the pain he was having, but I should go do some things alone. At first I said no, I’ll just hang out on the beach….but then I said, “How about if I take a helicopter tour of the island?” So while he napped, I booked myself the longest and most expensive tour I could find, since after all we weren’t doing any other excursions. When he learned how much it cost, he immediately quit feeling bad that his ailments had ruined so many of my fun plans! I’m so happy that I was able to help him like that. The helicopter tour was AWESOME!
So troubles come even in a Hawaiian Paradise. We adapt, we adjust and we hope that the sifting sands of time will smooth away the painful memories and allow the fun ones to remain closest to the surface!
So if someone you know has Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) give them a little advice from me: take the medication, don’t ignore the symptoms. It will be to your advantage in the long run.